Vocation to Secular Discalced Carmelites

I am very attracted to Carmelite spirituality –– e.g. the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. But if I am honest with myself, I know cannot meet the daily requirements. My health is not strong enough.

I’ve decided to study and practice Carmelite spirituality at my own pace. I hope I’m not selling out. Has anyone had a similar experience?

The OCDS make accommodations for isolates. Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer from the LOTH is required, plus 30 minutes of mental prayer. If one can make daily Mass, it’s wonderful. If “nj” in your name is your location, there should be gobs of OCDS in your area.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican

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Have you actually met with a chapter? Dispensations, even for the friars and the nuns, are within the prerogative of those in governance. I have worked with tertiaries for most of my priesthood. In part, it depends upon what has to be accommodated and the flexibility of the particular chapter.

Personally, I would encourage you to explore a bit further. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.


From what I recall, the Discalced Carmelites no longer allow “isolated,” membership.

You must be part of an OCDS community.

I believe the reason was because of poor formation direction for isolated members.

If you’re already a professed OCDS as my wife and my wife are, but not part of a community, we’re just classified as inactive.

We still follow the OCDS Constitution, but no longer meet with a group as there are none close enough for us to commute to at our age.


Yes, I do live in New Jersey, and I have found a chapter near me. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to call the contact person. Why? I don’t attend mass at all. An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion visits me once a week.

I could get a friend to drive me to the meetings. Studying the materials would be manageable as would be the daily prayers.

I’m just worried about the mass issue.

I’ve come across the same information in the Secular OCDS Web site.

Please do not waste time working up “courage” to call – you should not be facing someone at the end of the phone who is going to grill you, after all.

I would sincerely urge you to make the call and explain that you are chronically ill/disabled and although you are unable to attend Mass, you are cared for spiritually and pastorally by your parish’s ministry to the homebound…and that you would like to discern a possible vocation as a Carmelite Secular, emphasising that you would be able to make arrangements to attend meetings.

The spirituality of Carmel could greatly enhance your own life and experience of the cross and of the desert that illness is. Moreover, growing in and through Carmel, your life of prayer and suffering, which is more interior than most people living in the world, could greatly enrich the Church and souls. Like Therese of Lisieux, you could become the unseen partner of missionaries in distant lands.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking “Can you accommodate my situation so that I could be part of the family of Carmel?”

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Just be honest with them. Since you’re receiving Holy Communion, that should be adequate. Someone within the chapter could provide transportation.

Thank you for your excellent input. :latin_cross:

Thanks for your advice.

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